Thursday, February 24, 2011

Joe Mantegna: The Bargain with God which Took a Twist

Joe Mantegna is an actor on Criminal Minds, which is one of my favorite TV shows.  Until coming across this article I didn't know that he is Catholic.  Twenty-one years ago his wife, Arlene, was pregnant with their first child.  She became concerned when she couldn't feel the baby moving as much so she called the doctor.  She went in to see the doctor, then a half-hour later Joe got a call to rush to the hospital because the baby was in distress and needed to be delivered immediately or she would die.  The rest of the story continues below. 

"On the radio program "Personally Speaking" with Monsignor Jim Lisante, Joe recalled, "I went to the chapel. There was nobody else in there. I knelt and—I haven't been the most devout Catholic in my life, I'll be the first to admit, but we all tap into that which we know. And that is my spiritual connection to God, that's the channel it runs through—Catholicism. But I went in there and said, 'Look, I know I'm not on the A Team. I'm not one of the starters; I've been on the bench for a while. But please, if there's something that can be done for this child to live, I'm prepared to do whatever I must do.'"
"Born three months premature and weighing only 1 pound, 13 ounces, Mia was successfully delivered. Though she spent several months in intensive care, her health improved and she eventually went home. Joe and Arlene thought they had dodged every bullet but, at age three, it became obvious that something was wrong with Mia's development. It was then that they received the diagnosis; Mia was autistic.
"Recalling that period, Joe says, "I think everybody goes through shock and anger—it's human nature to go through that, but the trick is you have to move past it because you're not doing anybody any good by staying in a state of anger. There's nothing productive about that. So rather than yell at the wind, you try to use the wind you have to fill a sail . . . [my] prayer was granted, but there were obviously some stipulations that came with it. And you know what—it's okay. I look around me and I look at the world and at the suffering that goes on, and I think, 'Why not me?' If this is that thing that we as a family have to deal with, we'll do it. I still feel blessed that we're able to deal with it as best as we can. So I think back on that moment of prayer and I'm convinced that it worked."
"Mia is now twenty-two years old, lives with her parents, and is "fairly high functioning." While the autism has brought challenges, it's also brought blessings. Joe says, "My daughter has this purity about her. [Kids with special needs may be] lacking in terms of the things we wish they had—communication, speech, all the behavior that we call normal. The other things they are lacking is—my daughter doesn't understand hate, she doesn't understand jealousy. These abstract kinds of emotions aren't on her radar. So she's pure in spirit. She gets frustrated about things, but she never has a moment of vindictiveness or anger or hatred because it's just not part of her psyche. The magical things about life still exist in her and always will." " 
As you can see Joe's life has had twist and turns but God has also brought blessings to his life.  He may not have had the strongest faith before dealing with the ordeal during his wife's pregnancy but  God at a time of his choosing opened a door for him to grow stronger in his faith.  Just as God did that for Joe he also opens a door for the rest of us at a time of his choosing so that we may either return to our faith or so that we may grow stronger in our faith.  

H/T Patheos 


Patrick Button said...

A beautiful story!

Patrick Button said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teresa said...

It is indeed beautiful, Patrick.